The Italian car market’s growth streak has perhaps been left a little paralysed from the recent elections. Following a minor dip in February, March Total Market registrations were down by 5.1% leaving registrations just shy of 229,000 units. This drop in registrations is once again from the Private Market which in its 4th month of negative growth contracted by 12.7%. However, the True Fleet Market is holding its head up well against this trend, upping its volume by 6.1%. Italian companies, alongside a growing number of private customers are keen to sign LTR (Long-Term-Rental) contracts, thus turning this channel into the growth driver for the True Fleet Market and a stabilising factor for the overall car market.
The top 10 list of OEMs saw lots of movement with only three brands retaining their positions. No surprises for the top spot. Fiat, while not fully participating in the LTR boom, they remain comfortably in the lead. The second position was claimed by BMW with the premium brand not only growing their fleet registrations by remarkable 47.3% but also climbing up the ranking by four positions. Primarily, it was the 1 Series helping the Bavarians to gain ground but with substantial contributions also stemming from the 2 Series Active Tourer, the X1 and the 5 Series.
VW on ranked 3rd and Mercedes just behind them were the other top 10 OEMs to retain their location on the ladder, both of them with growth rates exceeding the channel’s average. Ford secured the fifth position, despite the challenge of repeating the high registrations from March 2017 which mostly came from the Fiesta. Speaking of repetitions, Audi on number six was just six registrations away from duplicating their result from one year ago.
Following the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer, Jeep’s results were all but constant. With the all-new Compass positioning itself as the brand’s new top-selling model, it vaulted the off road specialist’s registrations to a shiny 87.0% rise. Peugeot took the 8th spot before the next FCA brand, Alfa Romeo, achieved the remarkable growth of 68.5% earning the 9th position. Renault completed the top ten and while moving down the ranking, a double-digit rise points out the French were playing their hand well.
LTR vehicle segment performance
While LTR were the undisputed growth champion in True Fleets we found some noteworthy contrasts in terms of market segments. Mini car LTR registrations rose by remarkable 26.7% with a notable decline in other fleet sub channels. The same is true for the Higher Middle Class, with a + 14.1% in LTR and a ‑ 7.6% in the rest of the fleet market. Then again, Small cars appear to have taken the opposite direction with a 10.3% drop in LTR contrasting with an 8.8% increase in the other parts of the fleet market. Finally, the overall climb for SUVs was so steep through both the LTR and fleet other channel that when compared to Compact Cars and the Middle Class (which both lost ground in the sub-channels) we concluded that their former buyers now probably behind an SUV’s steering wheel.